Marikana families sue police for millions

The families of mineworkers killed in Marikana are suing Police Minister Nathi Mthwetha and National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega for damages, the Socio Economic Right Institute (Seri) said on Friday.

"The families of the deceased will claim for loss of support and general damages," said their attorney Nomzamo Zondo

She said the damages were estimated to be a million rand per family but it could be more.

Zondo said most of the mineworkers killed at Marikana were the sole breadwinners in their households.

"Their family members have suffered irreparable loss of support following their deaths at the hands of police officers.

"Many of family members suffered severe emotional shock when they heard of the killing of their relatives, and now suffer from depression."

Zondo said some family members suffered miscarriages while others died upon hearing of the killing of their relatives.

She said notices had been served on the police in terms of section 3 of the Institution of Legal Proceedings Against Certain Organs of State Act.

The Act requires payment to be made by the police within 30 days of receiving the claim, failing which Seri would institute court proceedings against the police.

On August 16 last year, 34 striking mineworkers were shot dead and 78 were injured when the police opened fire, allegedly while trying to disperse a group which had gathered on a hill near the Lonmin Marikana Mine outside Rustenburg.

Ten people, including two police officers and two security guards, were killed near the mine in the preceding week.

The Farlam Commission is holding hearings in Rustenburg, as part of its inquiry into the 44 deaths during the unprotected strike at Lonmin's Marikana mine.

Zondo hoped the Marikana Commission of Inquiry would make some important findings about what exactly happened on August 16 and in the days leading up to it.

"However, our clients believe that the SA Police Service [SAPS] used disproportionate force at Marikana that was unlawful, and that this use of force resulted in the deaths of their loved ones," she said.

"They are accordingly entitled to reparations for the loss of support and general damages incurred as a result of the killings."